Am I Polyamorous?

I guess from the outside looking in – I must be. But I’m not sure I embrace polyamory at least not the way it’s assumed by most people.

I’ve read The Ethical Slut and I’m rereading Opening Up. Both wonderfully educational and if you haven’t read them, you probably should. I follow blogs written by swingers, people in open marriages and other forms of polyamory. I know the lingo; I understand the concepts; and I respect people’s right to create the kind of relationships they want to have and what works for them.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone I’m starting to get to know and I realised that he’d made the assumption I must be polyamorous. I guess in a way I am. I am Daddy’s secondary partner and looking for a primary partner so by definition I am polyamorous. But I am not sure that it really describes what I am or what I want in my relationships.

I made the statement that I feel like I’m going about this all backwards: shouldn’t you have a primary relationship first and then think about opening it up to secondary partners?

That statement perplexed the person I was talking to who has been poly for so long that contemplating things from the other side seems odd to him. And truthfully, what he said in response perplexed me just as much.

I understand being open to and not limiting yourself to one partner. Obviously, I am doing that too. But my polyamory and openness has limits. I have limits. And right now that limit is two. I’m not looking to accumulate people I’m dating or sleeping with or that I’m loving. I’m not like that in any other part or my life, I have no intention of being that way in my relationships. To be clear, this is not a judgement of those who are open to more than two partners in the least, it’s not for me. I know that. I am clear on that right now. Could this change? Absolutely.

I see the value in having multiple partners. I understand the ways in which various people could enrich your life at the same time. And the truth is, right now I like what I have with Daddy and I hope I can find someone who can respect what we have and not feel threatened by it. I also operate under the assumption that I may have to let that relationship go at some point. (This is not something I like to dwell on but something we’ve spoken about and that we silently understand.)

This past week I stumbled onto Mollena’s post, …monoflexible? and it caused me to pause and think about who I am and what I want.

I realise that as I dip my toes in the dating waters seriously for the first time in years, that I need to be clear about what I want, what I need, and what I expect from any potential partners.

I’m fully aware that I carry with me some baggage that makes a relationship of any kind, let alone an open, polyamorous one,  more difficult. Trust, abandonment and security are all things I struggle with in every friendship, every relationship, intimate or otherwise, that I’ve had since I was a child. Throwing poly on top of those things seems to aggravate them a little more.

Something Mollena wrote touches on exactly what my concerns are as a head into any new relationship and in particular with someone who is poly:

This is my second mono / poly relationship since becoming involved in the community. The first time, I approached it from the “Well, he is the dominant, this is how he is, and if I want to be with him I have to live the way he dictates.” That worked for longer than one might expect, and our relationship lasted two years. However, I felt like a disposable piece of a never-to-be-solved puzzle as he was always looking for new partners, took little time to solidify our relationship as others came and went, and I wasn’t able to feel secure in my place.  (emphasis mine)

I want to feel secure in whatever relationship I get involved in. No, this doesn’t mean I’m ready to hunker down with the next man who comes into my life, I’m a little too jaded to believe it will happen just like that. But I think I am worthy enough of some quality time to at least determine what comes next. Time to figure out what we might mean to each other before continuing our relationship, before continuing to look for others who either of us might be interested in (though as I said, I’m not really looking for more than two partners right now). I struggle with how I could possibly feel secure in my place in someone’s life if I don’t get that time.

I am fully aware to those that are poly, asking that is probably contrary to the very nature of the thing. Why limit yourself? Why not explore what else is available to you? Why not keep as many options open as possible? If you have it in you to be open to various intimate relationships, why would you stop for a moment to explore just one?

And the truth is, a poly person wouldn’t and shouldn’t have to stop for a moment, which is why I think I don’t quite identify with the label. I want to feel like a point a focus, not just another girl amongst many. I don’t want to feel like I’m competing for someone’s time and affection. I fully acknowledge that my most recent monogamous relationship left me feeling like this over and over again so it is a sore spot and perhaps I’m trying to overcompensate for the way I was treated previously but that’s something I’m working on.

I know that I have a certain perspective and I’m carrying certain notions. I know, going back to my post from the other day, I don’t have it in me to maintain multiple relationships at once. The thought exhausts me. But even logistically I struggle with people who are juggling multiple relationships – where do you find the time? How can you ensure that all your partners can feel safe, reassured and cared for when you are spreading yourself thin?

I know it can be done. I just don’t know if I can do it.

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5 thoughts on “Am I Polyamorous?

  1. Pingback: Rebecca-Acknowledging the Unicorn: My Journey into Polyamory « The Sex Report

  2. That was a very well writen page. I enjoyed reading it and on some point can relate.Life is a crazy journey and we have so little time. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulder. If I may say just take your time……I always say just take a deep breath….scream a little and try again if things get tough. Anyway best of luck to you in all you seek.

  3. I’ve stopped trying to debate other poly folks about what it means to be poly. Too many have a very strict interpretation and, shockingly, bristle when someone has a different interpretation. I don’t even publicly identify as poly anymore, I’m simply in an “open relationship.” It’s easier that way.

    However, I will throw out the argument I used to make that would get me in trouble. Polyamourous suggests “many loves,” right? I’m capable of loving more than one person, but currently I have one “primary” and have a couple of friends outside of my relationship who are also recreational sexual partners. We’re close and we care for one another, but I wouldn’t say we’ve reached the love plateau where we want to start doing romantic things. In that sense, I’m currently non-monogamous. I’d think that’s where you are, too. Are you actively looking to fall in love or another close companion and/or activity partner that may lead to love? If it’s the latter you’re currently non-monogamous. If you find that person and fall in love, so you’re in too active love driven relationships you’re poly.

    Also, I’m probably completely wrong, but that’s how I see it. Essentially, don’t sweat how other people tell you you’re conducting your relationship life. You aren’t doing it “backwards.” Suggesting you can’t be poly while being primaryless furthers one of the big problems I see in non-monogamy/polyamory community – primary relationships on pedestals. The suggestion that polyamory only works if everyone is first in a primary relationship is so illogical it hurts my brain. That essentially means if primary relationship ends all of the secondary relationships need to end because you’re no longer in a primary relationship.

    By the way, I strongly dislike using primary and secondary language, but I’m using them in this comment out of shear laziness.

    • This summer I was trying to figure it out because I was starting to see someone who identifies as poly and who assumed, given my situation that I must be too. It ended rather quickly so I didn’t have to think much more on it since then but I think sometimes attempting to label things like that limits your relationships.

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